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Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Blog, Change, Feature |

Maps as Art and a Metaphor for Life

Maps are conceptual perfection. Lines, dots, colors, and symbols all neatly grouped together to convey distance, space, culture, and place in one compelling visual. Oh the joys of exploring the interplay of parts and wholes! Zeroing in on a small detail and then zooming out again to capture the complete picture in one delightful moment!


Maybe like Ken Jennings, I’m a “Map Head“. (Although in his geography quiz I scored at an ‘American college student’, which is narrowly above ‘the atlas shrugs’ and ‘Terrain wreck’ and sadly far below ‘Sensei of direction’ and ‘Certified maphead’!) So even though I won’t win the geography bee, my travel obsession combined with my ‘topophilia’ (Greek, ‘love of place’) is why I am drawn to maps and get lost in their cartological magic.

Maps are both aesthetically pleasing but also functional. Just look at these examples…stunning and informative!

 State Mottos Map

World as a Tube Map on Etsy

And what could be better than to have your map and eat it as a cake too?

Cake Map

‘Map’ props to this couple for creating ceramic representations of every state so that you know what? If I want to serve cheese cubes in the shape of New York or strawberries in the shape of California, now I can.

Another quirky love of mine is art made from reclaimed materials. Recently I stepped into the very cool, locally-run art collective called the MakeSpace in Harrisburg, PA. I was delighted to find a collection of works by Tegan Broznya, called Delineated. She paints over old maps and uses them as a medium to create a stunning presentation.

Tegan Broznya Map Art Installation

Map Art Circles by Tegan Broznya

Tegan Broznya Map Circles 2

Perhaps like many travelers, my romanticized relationship to maps is due to my reliance on them to chart my path across thousands of miles or direct me to food, shelter, cultural centers, and natural beauty. It is also obvious to me how maps carry remarkable parallels to one’s inner life. When speaking about going through a period of life or learning, we refer to our ‘journey’. When contemplating our future, we speak about the ‘road’ or ‘path’ we need to go down. While recalling memories we often say “when I was in that place” or ‘space’ and we speak about ‘navigating’ a difficult time. Wouldn’t it be an interesting project to visually depict the relationships between our thoughts, emotions, events, and beliefs? A personal map! Hmmm…

Portraits on old Military Maps

Portrait on a Map of North America

For a little journey into my map as art and function collection, visit my Pinterest board called Maps. If you too are a map head, do be in touch. Tell me why maps give you inspiration!